EDITOR’S NOTE: BP Ledger carries items for reader information each week from various Southern Baptist-related entities, and news releases of interest from other sources. The items are published as received.
Today’s BP Ledger contains items from:
Open Doors News
University of the Cumberlands
Uzbekistan increases charges against church leader in Kazakhstan jail
Makset Djabbarbergenov faces extradition to homeland, seeks asylum
ALMATY, Kazakhstan (Open Doors News) — The legal ground continues to shift underneath Makset Djabbarbergenov, a house-church leader being held in a Kazakhstan jail at the request of his native Uzbekistan.
Djabbarbergenov was arrested Sept. 5 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan wants him back to face charges that he practiced religion outside state regulation. His fate could be decided at a court hearing scheduled for Monday.
During his detention in an Almaty jail, Djabbarbergenov has discovered that Uzbekistan has increased the severity of charges against him, and that the Kazakhstan Supreme Court claims to have no record of the appeal he thought he had filed in hopes of obtaining refugee status for him and his family.
He, his wife, Aigul, and four boys await the Nov. 5 court hearing. Having fled Uzbekistan in search of asylum, Aigul has no legal standing in Kazakhstan and has been denied access to her jailed husband.
The Norwegian religious-freedom watchdog agency Forum 18 has followed Djabbarbergenov’s case closely. Based on interviews with Kazakh prosecutors and court officials, and examination of government documents, Forum 18 reported on Oct. 29 that:
— At a hearing Oct. 15 — the last day of Djabbarbergenov’s 40-day detention approved by the court following his September arrest — the judge extended his detention to Nov. 5. The court’s reasons: Uzbekistan’s general prosecutor had not yet delivered necessary extradition documents to Kazakhstan; and the Uzbek allegations against Djabbarbergenov would, if enforced under Kazakhstan’s laws, meet the definition of advocating terrorism.
— The Uzbekistan extradition papers still had not arrived as of Oct. 29.
— At the same Oct. 15 hearing, one of the original Uzbekistan charges against Djabbarbergenov no longer was part of the record: a charge of storing and distributing religious literature that carries a 3-year maximum prison sentence. In its place appeared a more serious charge of leading a “religious extremist” group, which carries a 5- to 15-year sentence.
— A spokesperson for the Kazakhstan Supreme Court said it had no record of Djabbarbergenov’s appeal of a lower court ruling that denied his application for asylum for him and his family.
Born in Uzbekistan in the small town of Symbai, Djabbarbergenov became a Christian in 2000 and soon became an active church leader in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan, the autonomous republic of Uzbekistan. At present, no Protestant church in Karakalpakstan has an official registration: they are considered illegal.
Djabbarbergenov was hauled into court six times. Police raided the family’s apartment in August 2007, prompting Djabbarbergenov and his family to flee to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. He crossed into Kazakhstan the following month, his family followed a few months later.
Their time since has been spent seeking asylum in Kazakhstan. Though the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined the family to be refugees who would face prosecution in Uzbekistan because of their Christian faith, the Kazakh government disagreed and has ruled against Djabbarbergenov at several turns. The Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights and the Rule of Law told Forum 18 that it had filed Djabbarbergenov’s appeal to the Supreme Court in August.
“We can’t understand why they cannot find it,” Forum 18 quoted the bureau’s Denis Dzhigava as saying. “It seems the application has been lost.”
In the meantime, Djabbarbergenov’s family waits.
“I and our older children are praying for Makset. We all miss him very much,” Aigul told Open Doors. “But pray that we can follow God and He’ll lead us to be where He wants us to be. We want Him to solve and resolve the situation and tell us what to do.”
She said the church will be troubled if Makset is sent back to Uzbekistan. Yet, she said, “in the church people are also united. They feel they are very close to each other. They are one. They began to pray often. They fast often. And I felt that unity. I found that Christian love.”
Uzbekistan is ranked No. 7 on the World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. “Christians are fined or given short-term prison sentences. When brought to court, fair treatment is not ensured,” according to the World Watch List.
The U.S. State Department has designated Uzbekistan as a “country of particular concern,” acting on the recommendation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The Uzbek government violates the full range of human rights and harshly penalizes individuals for independent religious activity regardless of their religious affiliation,” including Muslims, the Commission declared in its 2012 annual report.
Cumberland students serve in northern Kentucky
By Julie Paris
Williamsburg, Ky. (University of the Cumberlands) — Through University of the Cumberlands’ (UC) Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM), 30 UC students recently united with other schools across the state at Northern Kentucky University’s campus for a weekend of worship and service. After worshiping at an inspiring Hillsong Live concert on a Friday night, students joined together Saturday morning for community service.
Students were dispersed to work in multiple service projects throughout the community. Some sorted through clothes to send with Master Provisions, a ministry that provides clothing, medical care, agricultural training and much more to people in developing countries. Others did yard work while some worked in Covington, Ky. at the Moore Activity Center, cleaning a church and playing with children.
“This weekend was about connecting with God on an intimate and personal level, relating to other college students and their relationship with Christ, and reaching out to show our commitment to Christ and others,” said Eric Wright, UC junior. Students shared that the retreat created a new passion for community and their campus.
BCM is one of several Christian organizations on UC’s campus that take part in numerous service activities throughout the year. They are a part of United Campus Worship, host Fall Awakening and Spring Renewal, and help support numerous community service projects such as Appalachian Ministries. BCM also gives students opportunities to go on retreats that teach Christian service and allow them to deepen their relationship with Christ.
Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; nine pre-professional programs; twelve graduate degrees, including two doctorate, two specialist and eight master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs.
Carson-Newman students use fall break to help others
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (Carson-Newman College) — Twenty-five students from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, made a decision to spend their fall break a little differently. Instead of rest and relaxation, they opted to roll up their sleeves for the sake of helping others.
The effort was part of Carson-Newman’s SPOTS trips. Short for Special Projects Other Than Summer, the outreach ministry takes place every fall and spring, and is made up of student volunteers willing to forgo a traditional break from classes in order to help those in need.
This year C-N volunteers traveled to Atlanta, Georgia; Hazard, Kentucky; and Crossnore, North Carolina. They helped with a number of projects that included everything from roof repair to children ministry opportunities. Sophomore Hannah Jones, joined friends in working with an Atlanta homeless ministry. “This trip helped me put my faith into action,” said Jones, a family and consumer science major. “It allowed me to be the hands and feet of Christ to the homeless.”
Chad Morris, Carson-Newman’s associate director of Campus Ministries, said he’s pleased with this year’s efforts. “SPOTS trips are a way that students can use their passions and what they have learned in the classroom to meet the world’s needs.”
Carson-Newman is a private, Christ-centered liberal arts-based institution. Founded in 1851, C-N offers 50 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate programs. This year C-N was one of only five institutions to receive the Presidential Award, the highest distinction on the 2012 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Bluefield College Students Celebrate Baptist Heritage
BLUEFIELD, Va. (Bluefield College) — Bluefield College students celebrated the school’s history and culture with an annual Baptist Heritage Day ceremony, October 24, featuring a keynote address from an authority on Baptist life, John Upton, executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) and the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.
For the 13th consecutive year, the entire Bluefield College community came together to “celebrate the college’s Baptist tradition and its ongoing relationship with Virginia Baptists.” The occasion, according to Vice President for Student Development David Taylor, is designed to “help students, faculty, staff and the community at-large remember that Bluefield College is a Baptist college,” and as a Baptist-affiliated institution there are “certain ideals the college cherishes and celebrates.”
“We do this every year to celebrate our religious heritage,” said BC President David Olive. “Our founding was made possible because of the investments made by Virginia Baptists. We lift that up today and celebrate and acknowledge the vital role Virginia Baptists play in the life of Bluefield College.”
Elected BGAV executive director in 2001, Dr. Upton served as keynote speaker for the 2012 version of BC’s Baptist Heritage Day and shared his pride in Bluefield College and how thankful he is for the relationship Virginia Baptists have with the school.
“We are so proud of Bluefield College,” he said. “I don’t think any other school in Virginia has produced as many leaders for Virginia Baptist churches as Bluefield College has. Everywhere I go I see Bluefield College graduates at work or in leadership roles in Virginia Baptist life. We love you, and we’re behind you.”
Also the president of the Baptist World Alliance where he represents 41 million Baptists worldwide, Dr. Upton spoke about the values Virginia Baptists cherish, including the autonomy of the local church or the freedom for individual congregations to explore new opportunities of faith. He also spoke about the value of the centrality of Christ and how Christians honor God when they put Him first.
“You want to be courageous?” he asked the students. “Put Christ at the center of your life. Fear nothing. Stand firm. The world needs courageous people who put God first in their lives.”
A former pastor and missionary, Dr. Upton also talked about the priesthood of believers, another value held dear by Virginia Baptists, a value that says all believers have direct access to God, and a value that sees the potential in every human being.
“That’s why I’m so proud of Bluefield College,” he said, “because Bluefield College has always seen the potential in every student.”
Dr. Upton encouraged the BC students to live these values and to “never forget who you are.”
“This is your heritage,” he said. “Protect it. Guard it. Live it, and may you never forget it.”
Dr. Upton joins a long list of Baptist historians who have helped Bluefield College celebrate its annual Baptist Heritage Day, including most recently Dr. Bill Leonard, Baptist historian and founding dean of Wake Forest Divinity School (2011); Dr. J. Bradley Creed, a former Baptist pastor and longtime Baptist higher education professor and administrator (2010); Dr. James M. Dunn, former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs (2009); and Dr. Joseph T. Lewis, former president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia (2008).
National basketball champion Cameron Mills visits Campbellsville University
By Christina L. Kern
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Campbellsville University) — Cameron Mills, a member of the University of Kentucky’s 1998 National Championship Basketball team, spoke to various groups on the campus of Campbellsville University including the men’s and women’s basketball teams, first-year students at FIRST CLASS and Crazy Love Bible study leaders about being a leader with Christ.
Mills said shortly after he was saved at age 7, he received his first trophy, not for basketball but for swimming. “All eyes were on me because of something awesome I did,” Mills said, “and the trophy was proof.”
It was at this point he decided life is about trophies. “I could point to it and say ‘see how awesome I am.'”
Growing up Mills’ esteem came from trophies, “but I needed one I could take with me-a championship ring.”
After becoming a Kentucky Wildcat, winning national championships in 1996 and 1998, he had two championship rings, the latter of which he played a big part. After receiving his 1998 championship ring, he wore it for two weeks straight. “I won two national championships, but neither of them changed me,” he said.
“These years [in college] you look forward to what’s ahead and look to be fulfilled saying ‘that’s what I want out of life,'” he told the basketball teams. “If it’s not Jesus then it doesn’t matter. I wasted time fulfilling something that didn’t matter.”
In FIRST CLASS, the weekly chapel service for first-year students, Mills talked with students about having an opportunity to be a leader.
He told the story about the time he visited his high school coach after winning the national championship at UK-he wanted to show off his championship ring and show he was “the big man on campus four years too late,” he said.
While visiting his coach in the gym, other students were learning square dancing, but there was one girl no one wanted to dance with and all eyes were on her after her partner bolted from the room. “We want eyes on us with a trophy, but not in embarrassment,” Mills said.
Mills said he had the opportunity to stand up for the girl and show the class of 70 sophomores what is right by being the girl’s dancing partner, but he chose not to. “I came to have eyes on me but not because of square dancing, so I walked out… I had the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, but didn’t,” Mills said.
He recited the poem “Little Eyes Upon You” and said, “Someone is watching you; you’re somebody’s hero. It doesn’t affect you but someone wants to be you, and you have the chance to lead… little eyes are on you-where are you leading them?”
Mills also spoke to leaders of the Crazy Love Bible study, a group ministering to their various athletic teams by hosting a Bible study.
He said many times leaders wonder if they are really making a difference. “It’s not your responsibility to change someone’s life-it’s the Holy Spirit’s.”
Mills said he once preached the greatest sermon of his life and nobody moved at invitation time, but he preached what he thought to be the worst sermon of his life and “there were more people at the altar than in the pews.
“Don’t get discouraged. God will changes lives when the time is right. It is His job to move in people’s lives.”
Mills also told the leaders to “humble yourself-there is no greater disease than arrogance.” Mills said to “show others your weaknesses as much as your strengths.”